Best For People Who Want
The modern day version of the more traditional cruise
experience; sophisticated, elegant surroundings and design; large
staterooms, with several alternate dining options.
Holland America's newest ship, Nieuw Amsterdam, is the second of
the line's new "Signature-class" of vessels and with a few
exceptions, aside from interior décor, is identical to her
sister, the Eurodam.
For repeat HAL cruiser's, as you walk around the ship, though
the spaces have been expanded due to the larger spaces available,
with the layout of the public rooms everything will seem to be very
familiar. The stretch through from the Queen's Lounge, the Northern
Light's Disco, casino bar, casino, and piano bar is almost
identical in locations to the Vista Class ships; as are the Ocean
Bar and Explorations lounges.
While Holland America's older Vista Class ships have been
updated to reflect Holland America's "Signatures of Excellence"
upgrades, Eurodam and Nieuw Amsterdam were built to the "Signatures
of Excellence" standards. This includes a Culinary Arts Program
with a show kitchen for demonstrations and classes, located in the
Queen's Lounge, presented by Food & Wine magazine.
When not in use for the Culinary Arts Program the Queen‘s
Lounge serves as the ship's movie theatre with a large screen, for
showing fairly recent movie releases as well as major sporting
events, if they were to occur during your cruise.
A very popular feature is the dedicated area for the "Digital
Workshop powered by Microsoft"; where Microsoft trained staff teach
digital photography, video editing, blogging, and web skills, all
at no cost.
Located forward on Deck 11, next to the Crow's Nest Lounge, is
The Explorations Cafe powered by the New York Times. Here you'll
find the book and DVD library, Internet center, and music listening
area, as well as a kiosk featuring specialty coffees available for
purchase. With panoramic views, and comfortable furniture, it's a
wonderful spot to relax with a good book, or check in, via email,
with family at home.
The ship has a large casino, with plenty of table games, slot
machines, craps, and a Texas Hold Em table readily accepting your
donations. Unlike many cruise ship casinos, the décor here
is very sophisticated; more like Monte Carlo than Las Vegas. The
staff were incredibly friendly, and helpful; enhancing the gaming
New on Nieuw Amsterdam, and Eurodam, are private cabanas holding
lush Balinese lounge chairs big enough for two people are available
in two different areas of the ship. The "Lido Cabanas" are in the
deck area of the main pool inside the magrodome. The other area is
"The Retreat," high atop deck 11 forward, but facing astern. The
Lido cabanas can be leased for $30 on port days and $50 on sea
days. Retreat cabanas are $45 (port days) and $75 (sea days). Both
come with flavored mineral waters, chilled fruit, Evian spritzes
and champagne and chocolate-dipped strawberries served in the late
afternoon. A masseuse can be summoned for a private massage for the
same fee as in the Spa.
One of my favourite things about this ship is the numerous table
and chair set-ups, both by the mid-ship, Lido Pool, and the aft,
SeaView Pool (some in the shade, some in the shade). I truly enjoy
having breakfast and lunches, and even dinners, on a beautiful
evening, al fresco; with plenty of seating available it's much
easier to do on Nieuw Amsterdam than many other cruise lines.
As mentioned earlier, the public room layouts were designed to
provide familiarity , and most of the standard Holland America
public rooms are also on Nieuw Amsterdam. The Crow's Nest, situated
with a commanding view from the forward top deck of the ship, seats
165 people and has a row of chairs looking forward through angled
The Ocean Bar features classical music nightly along with
brandies and other sipping beverages. The Piano Bar is the
traditional sing-along forum with a talented and comedic keyboard
host playing requests, punctuated by barroom jokes, on his barstool
surrounded baby grand. Northern Lights, the Disco/Karaoke bar is
tastefully hidden away so the music and atmosphere can get busy
inside without interrupting the relative calm of the rest of the
In the ship's main restaurant, the Manhattan Dining Room, HAL
has improved the food in recent years as a result of more
contemporary menu selections. The continental cuisine offers a
broad selection each evening, beautifully plated.
The alternative (extra cost $20 pp at dinner, $10 pp for lunch)
Pinnacle Grille on the Nieuw Amsterdam showcases "Sterling Silver"
beef, and well as chops and fresh seafood, with world class wines
available. On this ship the Pinnacle stands out from the same
restaurant on other HAL ships, with it's roomier feel and gorgeous
Tamarind is a new alternative (extra cost $15 pp for dinner,
complimentary for lunch) restaurant on Eurodam and Nieuw Amsterdam,
where the cuisine is Pan-Asian.
Canaletto is a complimentary Italian dining restaurant,
transformed in the evenings within the Lido Deck buffet seating
area. Full restaurant service is offered from the Italian menu, and
reservations are highly recommended.
One unique thing about Canaletto is, aside from the other
desserts offered, a large plate of fluffy candy floss is delivered
to the table once you finish with your entrees.
The regular dining room, the Manhattan Restaurant, is two decks
high and features tables for two to ten people. The "Manhattan
theme" is carried boldly in this restaurant, with a bit of a
art-deco touch. The room offers both traditional cruise dining with
early and late seating and pre-assigned tables and servers, on the
top floor. Or guests can opt for anytime "As You Wish" dining where
you eat when and with whom you choose, on the lower level of the
dining room. Reservations are accepted for As You Wish dining.
Breakfast and lunch are served here, using open seating.
The newest alternative dining venue, a first for Holland America
on the Eurodam, and now on Nieuw Amsterdam, is the Tamarind
Restaurant featuring Asian fusion cuisine. The cover charge is $15
per person for dinner, but it is free for lunch serving dim sum.
The nighttime choices include Asian-inspired entrees such as sea
bass with hoisin-lime glaze, wasabi-soy-encrusted beef , steamed
lobster with garlic, or shrimp Szechwan with basil. Also on tap are
Peking duck and Asian curry dishes.
Located next to Tamarind is a beautiful cocktail lounge called
the "Silk Den" featuring "Saketinis," or martini-like beverages
similar to martinis but based on sake. Silk Den is designed with an
area cabana-like seating, with intimate seating groupings,
separated from each other by flowing curtains.
The top alternative dining venue is the Pinnacle Grill, now on
every ship in the Holland America fleet. This restaurant features
Seattle-style Pacific Northwest cuisine, such as steaks, chops, and
Canaletto is an Italian-theme venue created nightly in a section
of the Lido restaurant. There is no cover charge for this
restaurant, which features waiters and tables set in the dining
room style to offer table-side Italian service of veal, fish, and
several different pasta dishes.
Located mid-ship next to the Lido Pool is the Terrace Grill, and
here the varied selection will surprise those expecting the normal
hamburger and hot dog choices. The menu at the Terrace Grill also
offers turkey or lamb burgers, Croque Monsieur, as well as pita
By the SeaView Pool, aft, is Slice. As you'd likely guess, this
is where fresh and very tasty pizzas are served.
The Lido Restaurant,, has a separate salad bar, several carving
stations, and the infamous HAL ice cream and hot cookies, always
free of charge, and available after lunch and throughout the day.
They are several flavors of ice cream and toppings available.
Many new ships on other cruise lines have moved to a design
using separate "action stations" spread around the Lido restaurant.
Other than the salad bar, HAL continues to use a straight line
buffet counter design, yet they have tried to separate different
specialty areas within the line. One can get their salad and then
move to a specific part of the counter for their next selection.
You just have to home the other passengers have it figured out as
well, and don't just think you're "cutting into the line".
Room service is offered 24 hours a day at no additional charge,
with hang cards for pre-ordering breakfast the night before. The
breakfast selection is quite broad, and not limited to simple
continental breakfasts like many other lines.
Dining Room menu choices are available en-suite during dinner
restaurant hours. The regular en-suite dining menu is limited and
varies by breakfast, noon to 10:00 p.m., and after-hours dining
Holland America is known for it's gracious, ever-attentive
staff, that are some of the best at sea in the premium class due to
the line's most organized system of grooming crewmembers. With
schools in Indonesia and the Philippines feeding the crew for the
fleet. The service staff are consistently friendly, and most often
will remember your name by the second day of your cruise.
I was on a short (4 night) inaugural sailing, and I found
confusion reigned amongst the restaurant staff, as well as the room
steward. Though, I think that much of that was caused by the every
present "new ship glitches", and I have little doubt that by the
time this is printed everything will be as one would expect on a
Holland America ship.
For years Holland America was known for its no-tipping required
policy, but it has fallen in line with other cruise lines
automatically charging gratuities of $10.00 per person (including
children) to the shipboard accounts for dining and stateroom
service. Though the option to remove that gratuity is available by
visiting Guest Relations. There is also a 15 percent service charge
automatically added to bar bills.
/Activities: The "Mainstage" showroom is the best yet on a
Holland America ship, with state-of-the-art theatrical stage
effects like video screens and laser lights. In this showroom,
Holland America has replaced the bench and coffee-table seating
with true theater-style seating. The sight lines in the balcony are
greatly improved over previous Holland America ships by replacing
the brass and glass safety railings with deep but lower buttresses
where one can easily see over the top.
On my inaugural voyage I was unfortunately late leaving the
dining room or restaurant each evening, and didn't get a personal
look at the entertainment.
Holland America normally features "typical" cruise ship musical
revues, with a talented cast, as well as several feature performers
during a regular sailing. On this sailing, I heard rave reviews
from those who saw the act called "Fear No Ice", which was two men
doing miraculous ice carvings, using chain saws to create them.
Nieuw Amsterdam has a sing-along piano bar, a sports bar (with
several flat-screen TV monitors connected to satellite feeds), a
karaoke bar and of course an expansive casino.
The new Culinary Arts Center, with overhead video monitors for
those seated far from the action, is set up very much like a TV
Food Channel set, and must be adjudged a marvelous addition. A
number of demonstration classes are offered at no charge. Hands-on
classes, limited to about a dozen students, charge modestly. As
these classes are very popular, be sure to sign up early.
On Nieuw Amsterdam the first thing you'll notice is that one
must slip their "room key" into a slot by the doorway before the
lights will come on. This is an energy saver recently introduced on
several other new ships.
On one hand, it's also handy because you always know where your
key is. On the other (and I speak from experience) it's easy to
forget, and walk out of your cabin with the key still in it's slot,
as the cabin door closes.
The cabins are just as enticing as the rest of this beautiful
ship, with complimentary bathrobes, Elemis bath products (in
in-tub/shower) dispensers, flat-screen televisions, and DVD players
with movies available in the extensive Explorations Café,
Sizes vary from smaller inside cabins to expansive suites. All
feature the line's "Signature of Excellence" enhancements such as
extra-plush mattresses, Egyptian cotton towels, make-up mirrors,
massage showers, fresh flowers and complimentary fruit.
Passenger staterooms include two Penthouse verandah suites of
1,000 sq. ft. and 318 sq. ft. verandahs. Deluxe suites vary from
380 to 570 sq. ft. A standard verandah suite is a very generous 300
sq. ft (at least one-third larger than the average cruise ship
cabin). There are some larger than average inside staterooms of 255
sq. ft. as well as the standard 175 sq. ft.
Those occupants of SV category suites and above get exclusive
access to the private Neptune's Lounge, which offers free coffee,
pastries, DVD movies (for in-suite viewing) and concierge services
such as making shore excursion and restaurant reservations for the
On the top deck near the Retreat and the Greenhouse Spa are 56
luxury verandah Spa Suites. These suites are smaller than the
average verandah stateroom, with smaller balconies as well, but
they feature organic bathrobes, a selection of flavored mineral
waters, a constantly flowing water fountain and a Bose docking
station for playing music from an iPod. There is a special
breakfast spa menu with fresh-squeezed juices and organic muffins.
Special night-time chocolates are infused with relaxing herbs.
There's no self-service laundry on this ship, although several
laundry packages are available through your room steward.
The Greenhouse Spa offers the usual assortment of massages and
facials, and it has a thermal suite where guests can indulge in
essential oil infused steam baths, relax in a massage
thelassotheray pool and relax on heated ceramic lounge chairs until
the warmth envelopes your body. Pricing for the thermal suite is
$25/day per person, or $150 per person per cruise for the first
person and $100 for each additional person per cabin.
A nice alternative to a massage is a day pass to either the
thelasotherapy pool with extremely strong water jets to soothe your
muscles ($20/day), or you can go to the steam and aromatherapy
center and relax on heated loungers and take steam baths infused
with essential oils. Day passes to this are also $20/day. Or you
can buy a weekly pass to both for $250 unlimited.
There are two outdoor swimming pools, one with a Magrodome roof
that can be closed in case of inclement weather. There are also
several hot tubs available at no charge. The large gym has
state-of-the-art strengthening and aerobic equipment, and there's a
jogging track on one of the upper decks. There's a nominal charge
for some of the exercise classes.
HAL continues the more traditional dress codes with two formal
nights on a seven night cruise. Chances are you'll find half the
men opting for a dark suit rather than bringing, or renting a
tuxedo. Casual on these ships means comfortable, but T-shirts,
jeans, swimsuits, tank tops and shorts are all forbidden in the
dining rooms and public areas. It isn't allowed, but also not
unusual for people to change back to casual after dinner on formal
nights. As long as you stick to the deck areas or casino, no one
will frown at you.